Summer's End...

...and what a summer it has been!

It's half past eight here, and I'm sat in my PJs, freshly bathed and smelling of magnolia, watching the candles on my dresser flicker and listening to a nice blend of indie-pop-folk-rock on my mediaplayer, just reflecting on the past two months. It really has been a 'Summer of Fabulousity', just as my blog buddy Christy and I had planned. It's been busy yet relaxed, a time for long talks and big dreams and choosing and deciding to ride the wave. It's been an amazing time.

I've had many, many conversations with people this summer, which I've loved. It's such a proof of a connection when you can actually get down to the nitty-gritty conversationally, don't you think? I've had chats about life, love, work, faith, friendship, sex, politics... They've all made me think, or made me laugh. Some have even made me cry, or caused me to take a good hard look at myself and change, react, or say the same. I've loved having the time to share with people, whether it's staying up till five a.m. gossiping about mutual friends; or a lazy afternoon of lunch and coffee and tea and conversational cards spread out on the table; or early morning chats where no-one's really sure what they think; or a million and four chats I've had with the beautiful Mlle Wilson in person, on the phone, or on msn....the last of which was a ninety minute marathon on the phone, which at one point had a soundtrack. We're so groovy.

It's been a social summer, with lots of meals and parties and forays to the pub. I looked back over a tonne of photos from these two months earlier, and man, I've been happy. There have been stressful times, and sad times, and disappointing times, sure, but the overall mood has to be happy. It's been a summer of counting blessings. It's been a summer of hopes and wishes and music and dreaming.

It's been a summer of thinking, of trying to get a handle on what I want, and what I need. I've had to let go of some things and there are other things I have to change. But really, I've started to get more of a handle on what I need to have to stay happy and inspired (people, and the chance to help them; love, in its many and varied forms; and a million other little things - starry nights, hugs, little moments that take you by surprise and give you a spring in your step, time to think, kisses, mail, and dreams all fall into this category, amongst other things).

Tomorrow I'm back to school, and into the toughest part of my school year. September and October are tough! But as well as all the hard stuff and challenges, there are sprinkles of fun - gigs and sleepovers and parties, letters to write, dances to boogie to, and no doubt more silly moments, knowing me.

I wonder what the autumn has in store? Here's to a season of loveliness!

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The Songs Inside My Head

So summer draws to an end, and I'm staring down the barrel of a long and challenging term. Lucky I like my job, right?

The past week has been a fitting end to a busy and relaxed and silly summer (of fabulosity!). I've sat up till 5 in the morning chatting with good friends. I've had long and deep and honest conversations. I've drank and sung and danced and driven and thought and dreamed (not all at the same time, I hasten to add :-)). I've slept deeply and woken early and lain sleepily thinking about anything and everything.

And my brain is just stuffed with music right now...with Ben Folds and Regina Spektor's new song (You Don't Know Me). I hope I get to see him on tour this year. With a song from Duffy's album (Distant Dreamer) which just seems to sum up how I'm feeling at the moment. I'm a happy and blessed young lady, but I know I want more, I need to do more. But what? Now that is the question. I want to travel and love and sing and write and smile and learn and help. How to do this is the question... I'm loving the Kate Rusby song that a friend recommended (Underneath the Stars). As someone who loves nothing more than just lying back and looking at the stars, this song just resounds. I love music.

There's so much I could write about, but there's so much I need to sort out in my head also. So for now I'll leave you with three amazing songs and wish you a very happy weekend...

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Edinburgh! (Part 2)

After the detail and expansiveness of the last post, this one may be a little more seems to be catching up with me and there are things happening now I'd like to blog about, but I'm still due more blogging about Edinburgh amazingness. Not that I'm complaining - having too much to blog about is rarely a problem :-)!
So, after the wonderful start to Edinburgh the fun continued. After the cold wet weather of Tuesday, Wednesday dawned warm and dry. The GPB and I also woke up and decided we felt like being French (so we talked like zeeees) for the day, as we explained to her lovely friend Matt (or Mattheiu, if you will) when we met him for breakfast. Lots of wandering around the city, drinking tea, watching circus acts, meeting friends, taking pictures. And then, more shows.

We went to see the 30th birthday bash performance of Circus Oz, who were amazing! The tumbling and showmanship was just stunning. The GPB spent a lot of time over in Australia, so she knew some of the performers too - we may go and see them again soon. Then we went to see a comedy troupe called Sound and Fury (or, to us, The Freakishly Early Guys) do a show called 'Cyranose!'. Brilliant. I just laughed and laughed. I also made one of the guys smile before their performance when they were stood outside the venue flyering and he bounded up to me and started his speil about the show and I just went - "I'm looking forward to it! I already have tickets." He looked so pleased. We then went into town to meet some of our Joinee friends for a bite to eat.

Then we rounded off the evening with Luke Toulson, who does really good, dry, bitter comedy, and then a comedy cabaret at half-past midnight (the Edinburgh timescale may be why my bodyclock's a little mussed up right now!) which ended with a bunch of comics and musicians doing a jam session to 'Perfect Day'. Beautiful.

Thursday dawned lovely again, and The GPB, Mattheiu and I set off down Princes Street to meet Jenga and her colleagues for lunch. Great chat and silliness, and a chance to play 'Where's Wally' with bagpipers and make an older lady smile. The se had to dash back to Waverley to meet the gorgeous KOTG, who came up for a day and a night. Then, more shows!

First we went to see Roy Walker. He's famous for presenting a show called Catchphrase, and his show was about that and life and all that. Great standup, brill show, and I won a T-shirt. Awesome. Next, Jenga and her flatmate joined the GPB and KOTG and I to watch Mark Watson, a really funny comic who I knew a bit of from all the panel shows I'd seen him in. And then our last show, the sublime Tim Minchin. He's this amazing musical comedian from Australia, and an absolute genius. And then after his show, we randomly bumped into Danny Wallace, the founder of the "kindness cult" that the GPB, KOTG and I are members of. Brilliant!
So that was Edinburgh. Manic, fun, silly, entertaining. Can't wait for next year!

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Edinburgh! (Part 1)

Was simply amazing! A few days of fun and laughter and comedy and wonderfulness. I was an especially lucky girl as my beautiful and multitalented friend the GPB organised the whole thing - I literally just had to rock up, hand over some cash, and have a good time. Thank you again sweetie!

Set off from home on Tuesday and pelted down the A9. Got to Edinburgh at lunchtime, and headed straight into town to drop off my stuff at the hostel and meet the GPB! An afternoon of tea and chat and acclimatising, and being given my awesome Laminated Timetable of Amazingness (LToA!). And then the shows began. Our first show was called 'Ferris Bueller's Way Of...' and yes, it was a comedy show based on the awesome film. Really funny, and free too ;). Plus I got my first compliment of the visit - the comic asked how old I was, I said 27, and he just went "really? No, you've got to be younger". Cheers! :-)

Then we headed to the Underbelly, one of the biggest venues, to see Sammy J's show 'Sammy J in the Forest of Dreams'. Brilliant, and I'll be shocked if he doesn't pick up several awards. It's comedy with puppets, but the golden moments were when Sammy had to improvise due to technical problems or audience heckling. GPB knows Sammy from her time in Aus, so it was great to see his show packed to the rafters and with excellent reviews.

Apres ca, the lovely Jenga came to find us. This "finding" presented us with its own problems - Jenga lives in Edinburgh and knows it really well. GPB loves the festival (this was her 5th outing!) and knows its geography really well. The two don't overlap much! But eventually Jenga found us, and after scaring some flyerers with our glee at the awesome powers of the LToA (over the course of the week it would get licked several times, and dipped in water, OJ, red wine, white wine, beer and tea...) we set off in search of pizza.

And gig number three - a free comedy double hander by two young comics, Marcus & James. Really funny and irreverent, but I made the mistake of choosing the "favourite audience member chair" so had to get involved a little....all good fun. Then we stayed fairly late chatting before bidding Jenga and the boys adieu. For the GPB and I had another place to be....

You guys, we went to Silent Disco! Have you heard of it? Basically, as you go in you are given a pair of headphones, and that's how you hear the music...there are two channels to listen to (one's fairly hip, one's more cheesey!), but the real surreality comes if you take your headphones off for a moment...a silent room filled with people indie shuffling or Hammer dancing? Is ace. If Silent Disco have a night near you, I'd recommend! GPB and I danced our socks off, before returning to our digs a little after two, ready to sleep.

I was going to do the whole stay as a post, but that would be far too long...I'll continue the tale in my next post!

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I'm back!

And Edinburgh was truly superb. So superb, in fact, that I shall blog about it later (time permitting) to give you all the awesome details.

In the meantime, I started my 'photo a day for a year challenge' (part of my List thing!) a few weeks back. The evidence so far can be found here! Do have a click - the images are a mishmash of what I've been up to lately!

More soon!

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Time to be moving on...

And so another visit home draws to a close.

It's 6.40 (a.m.. Eeek!) and I'm quickly writing this as I enjoy a bowl of porridge and a cup of coffee and allow the morning sun and the simple act of sitting up to awaken me. Last night, as is usual, I had my traditional attack of the blues...I'm always sad to leave here. I'll miss my family, and my friends and our cat. I'll miss midday lunch bickering with Minimus and zipping through to Inverness for lunch and the Carisbrooke pub quiz, and just having time to see friends and catch up with them. It has really been a lovely visit home, and I hope I get back again soon (realistically, though, it's a four month stint....won't be back again till Christmas in all likelihood).

So it's shower time, and car packing time, and off on the road. Down the A9 to Perth and beyond, then further, over the Forth rail bridge, to the beautiful city of Edinburgh! Yep, I'm meeting the gorgeous and multitalented Lou, and we are off to the Fringe Festival for three days of shows and fun. I am looking forward to seeing Tim Minchin and Mark Watson and Roy Walker, and all the other shows we've got arranged. I'm looking forward to good chats with Lou, and Shelley when she comes along on Thursday, and hopefully meeting up with Jenna and Hebba and Judy and Janey and Gaz. Yay!

Then down to Yorkshire. Then home once more. Then unpacking and fighting the spiders (they will have tried to colonise again, I'm sure). Then a mountain of paperwork and stress and driving on Monday. Then on Tuesday, back to some semblance of normality - sorting my classroom, planning, going to the gym, and seeing friends....term starts in a couple of weeks!

Time to get a wriggle on!

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Would you like a revelation with your latte?

So, earlier today, I did one of those things that we all do from time to time - I went to Starbucks to grab a coffee (mine's a skinny vanilla latte, if you're buying ;)). And as I stood in the queue, a strange sensation waved over me...I started to get worried, and flushed, and stressed.


It was a mini-flashback of sorts.

You see, for much of the first twenty-odd years of my life, I was pretty darn shy. I'd gotten over my doormatitis (I learned the distinction between helpful/giving/kind and muggins!). I'd stopped actively hating / disliking myself (the starting to realise that I was OK, really, came later). I'd miss parties because I didn't want to arrive alone. I'd never dream of waiting alone in a pub for friends. I'd get flustered if I had to ask directions, or ask a shop assistant for help, or even just order a coffee in Starbucks...

When I was 22 and I left uni, I started to build my self-confidence up...sometimes in small increments (smiling and looking people in the eye when we were introduced, learning how to take a compliment (believe me, one of the best lessons I've ever learned!))....sometimes with giant leaps (my big trip to Canada - especially when I got a little lost and had to sort it!, choosing to move 500 miles away to do a job that inspired me, that first Join Meet last December - I was so nervous!). And do you know what? It's worked!

I've had so many chats with people over the last few weeks (the joy of summer break!), and so many of them have cited confidence or bravery as something they see in me or admire in me. So, it seems, I've got there. That makes the shy chubby silly girl who was scared to go to the bar or the coffee shop smile :-)

There are still times and places where I still get shy and worry. Today was a flashback, and there's certain situations that never fail to make me very shy and unsure of myself. But it's getting better, baby. And I think having been a shy type helps me understand other shy folks a little better too. Yay empathy!

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Some pictures from the Join Meet in Inverness at the weekend (with thanks to Mlle Wilson and The Daddy for the pics). Let the goofiness ensue.... We did the traditional RAoK (Random Acts of Kindness) challenge around the city; visited the cathedral (on of the spiritual homes of Join Me); and then (naturally!) went out to the pub and a club. A great weekend with some awesome folk.

Mlle Wilson, M and Mum W at the start of our RAoK challenge. Our challenge was to make as many people smile in an hour as possible...using any means necessary....

The rest of my awesome RAoK team. And a man in a kilt!

Blowing bubbles in the city centre.

Mr H makes a seagull smile.

Siobhan offers the good people of Inverness some encouragement.

The Joinvernes5 crew on the steps of the cathedral.

With Greg, the awesome storyteller.

A bit of pointy dancing in the pub. I do love to pointy dance :-).

Mlle Wilson and I cheese it for the camera.

Mum W and the Daddy in the club. I love this picture - they both look so happy!

Mlle Wilson and I with the Meatloaf tribute act we saw. He was amazing!

Mr H, Mlle Wilson and I cut a rug in the club.

Sunday was all about the laidbackness. Here's Mlle Wilson on the shore of Loch Ness, where we had a lovely barbeque and picnic. A perfect ending to a lovely, chilled meet.

Hope you enjoyed the pics!

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A request

Hello again! Two posts in one day? What am I up to? Well, here's the thing...I am losing weight for charity this year. I have invited people to sponsor me by the pound as I do this, or contribute a 'lump sum'. Futher details can be found on my JustGiving page ( or by clicking on the widget in the top right hand corner of my blog.

I am raising money for Children In Need. If you can afford to do so, please donate and help me to help them help children. If you can't afford to donate...feel free to tell me off if you see me eating cookies :-).

Thank you so much for your support in this!

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Rainy day laziness...

Don't you just love a good rainy day from time to time? On a sunny day I feel I have to zip about and do stuff, go places, accomplish things...but a rainy day lends itself quite beautifully to other, more lowkey pursuits. To this end, it has been chillaxing central here today! It is grey and cold and horrid outside in that way that North East Scotland does sooooo well, so it's been an indoors day, a day of reading and writing and reading up on blogs and thinking. Lovely stuff. Here are some pics from my den of laziness and relaxation....

My favourite place to blog and surf while I'm at home. This big blue sofa is in the room my sister and I share while we're home, and I make a 'nest' of sorts to work and write from. Very comfy!

My lovely loyal Chucks take a day off....

The never ending letter and postcard writing continues. I love post and mail and seem to be on a one woman quest to keep the Royal Mail going.... Don't you just *love* letters and cards? I love that someone takes the time to put pen to paper and catch you up, even if it's just a few lines!

My mother's pergola in our garden. I had planned to sit underneath it and write some poetry, but the weather was not co-operating today!

Our very soggy and very green garden.

Chicken soup for lunch. Yummers! Comfort food is so ace when it's cold and grey outside!

Bubble bath!

Rocking the shower cap....I'm so 1950s!

So all in all, a lovely chilled day. And now mum is back from the office, so it's on to an evening of more letters, a little TV, some blog fun, and maybe a little walk if the weather clears. Hope this finds you all having a lovely week so far!

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A long weekend of epic proportions

Mlle Wilson here for five days AND a Join Meet? Non stop fun!

What have I been up to?

I have made lots and lots and lots of silly jokes and double entendres.

I have visited my old uni campus.

I have travelled for literally hundreds of miles around the North East of Scotland.

I have stood on the banks of Loch Ness.

I have been amazed, in a lovely way, by people's perceptions of me.

I have realised that in certain situations I have to follow the flow rather than control it. And I am A-OK with that.

I have slept very little.

I have realised that I have to let some things go.

I have (almost) been licked by a Meatloaf tribute act.

I have found the spot where (if I ever get married), I want to get married.

I have danced crazily to ska and reggae and punk and rock, and been twirled around (don't you just love twirling?).

I have been licked. Ewwww.

I have been reminded just how amazing my friends are.

I have had a million and one great conversations with people I love and respect and who I really appreciate having in my life.

I have been hugged. A lot. I freaking love hugging.

I have had fun.

I have done a very silly happy dance because of a sentence.

I have introduced Mlle Wilson to Flight of the Conchords.

I have made the people of Inverness smile.

I have sung songs about badgers.

I have burnt things in a cleansing ritual. With Mlle Wilson. On top of a freaking big hill.

I have drunk Jack Daniels.

I have looked at a sky that is festooned with a million brilliant stars.

I have been really happy.


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